As rent continues to rise, Phoenix area small business owners express doubts and fears over the future

Inflation is at four-decade highs, and that means many things are getting more expensive, including rent.

As rent for businesses go up, people with some small businesses in the Phoenix area say they won’t be able to survive past the summer.

For five years, Heather Hathaway and her husband, Lafe, have been styling at their small business, Bonnie and Clyde Hair Salon.

"Owning a business is tough," said Heather. "A lot of times, you feel like it's just two people's backs against each other, out against the world like Bonnie and Clyde."

Bonnie and Clyde Hair Salon is also facing rising rent.

"The rates have really gone up, but we don’t have another place to go," said Heather. "We can't do this anywhere else, and again, this is our place."

A shopping center at the corner of McKellips and Lindsay already has two vacant places. Due to rent increase, a woman workout center is closing next month. Next door, Vu Tran with Haught Nail Spa says the budget is getting tight for them as well.

"[We're worried[ about that right now, and our employee right here, they need to have job too," said Vu.

Vu says if another business closes, the area may become a ghost town.

"So many businesses close, you know?" said Vu.

"It’s scary," said Heather. "I think what are my clients going to say when they see more empty spots and question our stability here."

Heather says if it gets much worse, it may not be sustainable to stay open.

"How much more can small businesses take? I think about that all the time," said Heather. "We’ve already been through so much. There’s a breaking point."

This strip is just a small example of how rent can impact a shopping center. Officials with the organization Local First AZ says rising rent has been an ongoing problem for small businesses, but that many are feeling it more now, as many pandemic relief programs have ended.